Brahmanic bevy of bureaucracy

When political positions were distributed in the allied parties, as many allege, when PDM took over in Islamabad, the bureaucratic offices were also distributed among the blue-eyed lot. Yesterday’s heroes have become today's villains and yesterday's villains have become blue-eyed for the PDM coalition government

After the successful regime change, when the political chaos, debauchery and corruption are at their peak and people continue to suffer, the administrative system also experiences the same and has come to a halt. The war between political stalwarts has crept into the folds of top civil bureaucracy as well.

When political positions were distributed in the allied parties, as many allege, when PDM took over in Islamabad, the bureaucratic offices were also distributed among the blue-eyed lot. Yesterday’s heroes have become today’s villains and yesterday’s villains have become blue-eyed for the PDM coalition government. Former Principal Secretary to CM Punjab Tahir Khurshid, ex-CS Jawad Rafique Malik, and Ex-SMBR Babar Hayat Tarrar have been made OSD as soon as the present government at the Centre took the oath. These officers were considered close to the PTI government. Likewise, those who had faced accountability during the last government have been given rewards by the current regime at the centre. Capt (R) Rai Mahmood, and Rashid Mahmood, both BS-21 officers of PAS, have been given BS-22 positions in reward for their bearing the brunt during the PTI government. Mahmood is currently working as secretary water division while Langrial is the federal secretary power division, both of which are the backbone of the national economy. Rai Mahmood also remained in the custody of the Anti-Corruption Department in the Rawalpindi Ring Road scam. He also faced a number of other NAB proceedings. In the government of PM Imran Khan, those officers, who were being forcibly retired under the directory retirement policy, were awarded the most important positions, including Dr Tauqeer Shah, the all-powerful Principal Secretary of the incumbent PM Shehbaz Sharif. Rashid Mansoor former Principal Secretary to Governor Punjab was rewarded for flouting the orders of the then governor. Later, he was elevated to the BS-22 position by the HPB and subsequently, appointed as a member of PPSC.

Placing such officers, facing various charges, raises eyebrows about the intentions of those at the helm of affairs. In this way, Iftikhar Shalwani has been appointed as federal secretary in an important division like housing.

It may be noted that many officers approved for grade 22 by former PM Imran Khan, after a lengthy and hectic exercise, were not promoted as his government was changed.

In this way, former secretary establishment division Afzal Latif has also been lined up because he has been given the human rights division. On the other hand, as sources claimed, Inamullah Dharejo from Sindh has been appointed as the federal secretary Establishment Division.

Sources in the federal government further said that officers cannot be kept OSD for a long period, especially after the apex court judgment in the Anita Turab case. When appointments to the highest posts are made in this way there will be no such thing as service delivery in government offices.

It is also known that the central selection board (CSB) which was held for the promotion of officers from grades 19 to 20 and 20 to 21 could still not finalize recommendations. It is instead believed that a CSB would be held afresh somewhere in December this year and recommendations of the board held three months ago are being shelved. It is also believed that the government agencies have been assigned the task of identifying loyalist officers of the PTI so that they could be penalized by not promoting them to higher grades despite fulfilling all formalities and qualifying the eligibility criteria of seniority cum fitness. Officers reaching superannuation will go home without promotion and benefits. They ask many questions like if promotion was not to be given then why the selection board meeting was held, and why it was kept inconclusive for a long time after that? Many officers also doubt that later, based on the board’s recommendation, some powerful circles may distort the facts. The delay would further compromise the sanctity of the selection board.

There is also news that Principal Secretary Dr Tauqeer Shah is retiring at the end of December this year. He wants to hold the High Powered Board meeting for grades 21 to 22 before his departure. Many questions the recommendations of previous HPB meetings, in which some of the most incompetent officers were awarded the highest grade, especially those whose political commitment was very strong.

It should be noted that the High Power Board is chaired by the prime minister in which the principal secretary may play a key role.

An officer of the federal police service, retiring after a few weeks, said, on condition of anonymity, that there were reports of amending the minutes after the board meeting. Capt (R) Zahid Saeed, who was made the chairman of the commission, is now running for his extension, he claimed. If something obscure happens in promotions, he warned, all the slogans like good governance, transparency, and merit will suffer badly. But who cares when all power players want to benefit from the looting spree in the federal capital?

Today, there is deep apprehension between the federation and provinces where Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf governs on the postings of senior officers. This has been done because the federation is unwilling to appoint any officer from amongst those whose panel was sent by the provincial government. Some officers this correspondent talked to, firstly, suggest that there should be no high-powered board meeting during the ongoing government’s tenure. Secondly, the Supreme Court should take notice of the promotions of those officers who, during their service, only served the political elite and reached the highest positions. Thirdly, the HPB should also be expanded and the representation of the federal public service commission be accepted in it to maintain transparency and prevent political elites from making arbitrary decisions. Merit, institutional impartiality and transparency are hallmarks of democracy. If these do not prevail and officers continue to look to political cabals for their postings and promotions, public service delivery would be a distant dream and Pakistan will continue to be dubbed as a ‘banana republic’ with no future for the hapless. The need is to rein in not only the unbridled political elite but also the Brahmanic bevvy of bureaucracy. Otherwise, it would arguably be the best revenge for democracy (from the people).

Javed Iqbal is a special correspondent covering the Punjab government with a particular focus on bureaucracy. He has unearthed a number of mega scams while working with leading media houses. He tweets @javedjahangiri and can be reached at javediqbal344@gmail.com.

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